Real Moneyball and the forgotten parties


First of all I want to make something perfectly clear. I have no hope that anything recommended here has any more of a chance of occurring than this writer has of either playing for or owning a major league team. But the recent talk about how unfair the current agreement is with the MLB Players Association and the inevitability of a work stoppage when the five-year agreement runs its course has been the motivation for this post.

Major league baseball is a $10+ billion business.

Is there sympathy for the owners? Not much. Sure some owners are stuck in crappier baseball cities like Tampa that don’t care much about their teams and show paper losses. But their real books are never opened and when their teams are put up for sale they double, triple, quadruple their investment.

Is there sympathy for the players? Not much. Yes, they are the product. And, yes they apparently had a year when for no real financial reason they took home less of a piece of the pie. The fact that no team is willing to give the players what the Scott Borases of the world think they have earned is a reason for a future strike. The “minimum” MLB salary is $545,000 in a world where many folks wished they had the $45,000. In 2018, the average MLB player made approximately $4.5 million. It’s tough to get worked up about a guy being disrespected by being offered $300 million instead of $400 million or that Dallas Keuchel thinks he should get six years of insane money instead of four years.

Should the players get a bigger piece of a pie that is based on their talent? Probably. Do the fans really care? Not much.

When it comes to a battle between billionaire owners and millionaire players, us thousandaires don’t want to see how the sausage is made, we just want the sausage to keep being made.

Here are some thoughts about two forgotten parties in this money grab.

Minor Leaguers

Instead of giving a bigger piece of the pie to the top players – how about a small piece of the pie for the struggling minor league players. Ignore the very small percentage of players who get a big bonus. The top AAA players get paid a little more than $2000 a month and only for the 5 months of the season. Not even spring training. Most of them survive on the backs of spouses who have to keep the family’s finances afloat.

Let’s say the average major league team has eight minor league teams with approximately 25 players per team. If you paid an average of $50,000 to the players that would be about $10 million a year (actually about $8 million a year since you already have to pay them something). Man that does not seem much to share with those who work hard and ride buses around the country.

Fans

Many fans are priced out of going to games anymore. Between tickets, parking, food, drinks, and souvenirs – many people never make it to any games during the season. This is especially true for the elderly on fixed income.

Let’s do the same thing. Have each team set aside $10 million for the fans? If you made it $40 tickets that would be 250,000 free tickets a season. Have folks sign up for it, have some kind of financial criteria, but do it. It would be showing respect to those who have loved the team for many, many years.

So, there it is. Just asking that these two forgotten sets of folks be remembered going forward as the owners and players fight over more money than they all ever dreamed of when they were kids playing little league or the CEO equivalent of little league (Risk?).

What do you think?

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72 comments on “Real Moneyball and the forgotten parties

  1. There should be a work stoppage in the NFL prior to the 2021 season. That may determine what happens with the inept MLBPA and greedy MLB owners down the line. I’ve jumped on the soapbox to cry doom and gloom around revenue before. We’ll see what happens, but as more people cut the cord and more content moves exclusively to cable at the same time it’s a bad recipe. I suppose teams could start putting advertisements back on uniforms. Tampa could sell the naming rights to the team. Manfred wants to add two teams and there is speculation as to which cities…but I don’t know that it’s a healthy move.

    Certainly the minor league player pay and benefits should be addressed. MLB player service time should also be addressed. Have you all seen the story of Micah Bowie? Basically, he claims injuries he sustained trying to lengthen his playing career required surgeries. Major damage to his lungs resulted from complications with one of the surgeries. Over his career he appeared in 88 games across six years, but fell short of the target to receive benefits by 20 days on an MLB roster. He has petitioned the MLBPA for aid but been stonewalled.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 1. I agree on a decent pay for minor leaguers. 2. The old folks would be just fine if MLB dropped their blackout. We are willing to pay to see our team, but most of us are not willing to pay for the East and West Coast teams. I understand the reason for the blackout but it forced those of us stupid enough to want to watch most games to go through cable (and that is not always available) or Dish or DiectTV that costs $500-600-$700+/- just for the season. 3. Let MLB be a local subscription item. Pick a number- $3 each for 162 games. That would give the local team $500 times a number. 500,000 maybe = $250,000,000. That way everyone with Internet access could be a potential client. My personal caveat is I will pay, but NOT for 5 minutes of commercials between every 1/2 inning. Show clips of recent minor leaguers.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. At this point in my life as a fan, I’d be satisfied if they just took care of the minor leaguers. It’s not rocket science. The guys who struggle because they got very low bonuses would make more than guys who got bigger bonuses.
    Everything is done by computer anyway so a scale of pay would be established early on. Offer year end bonuses for players who continued their education over the year, as an encouragement to be moving forward in case they don’t make it in their quest to get to the majors.
    Establish a part of their HR dept. specifically designed for minor leaguers in each organization to handle these things. Or establish a fund contributed to equally by each team and make it an MLB endeavor and that way the league can oversee it, so that every minor leaguer has the same access, so that one large team of HR guys can be hired to handle it, rather than 30 different teams having to hire a bunch of HR people to handle it.
    Get the MLB guys to handle this. Maybe if they had more on their plate, they could spend less time making up new rules changing how the game is played.
    Lemme think about this senior citizens discount thingee before I make a bigger fool of myself than I already have.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Regarding minor leaguers . . . how about a common sense approach? They had options, you know. It wasn’t like they did not know what they were getting into. It is not like anybody forced them to make the choice to forego college, trade school, or the booming job market and instead keep playing a game they love. It is not like they did not choose the dream, back in the affirmation of being chosen by a major league team in the draft or, in some cases, signed after a baseball camp. It is not like they did not jump at the opportunity. After being fully being advised of the risks of the game and the ups and downs of the minor league lifestyle, they opted in. If the pay they now receive is really too little to live on, why aren’t more of them refusing to leave school in the first place, or quitting in droves to go get a ‘real world’ job?

    That being said, minor leaguers are professional employees who have voluntarily signed employment contracts containing fully enforcible non-compete clauses. Contract law applies. Bloggers do not get to set salaries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Using some quotes from one of my favorite movies…
      Judge Chamberlain Holler: That is a lucid, intelligent, well-thought out objection.
      Vinny: Thank you, your honor.
      Judge Chamberlain Holler: Overruled.
      I’m not saying what you are saying is not true from one end to the other Mr. Bill, I’m just saying that the next time the billionaires and millionaires get together to split the loot, they should throw a bone to the hundredaires. This is the amount that a team spends on two average mlb ball players – less than 10% of their mlb payroll.

      Liked by 2 people

      • In the old days we had to stand up, with egg all over our faces, and say: ‘Please note my objection for the record.’ Now we just smile and think: “when does ST start?”

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      • Well I’m not naïve enough to think that anyone cares about our rantings here. I think fans have some terrible ideas and some good ones and it doesn’t matter because they don’t want to hear any of them.

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  5. Regarding fans . . . I am one, and head a large family of them, and as a result I was effectively priced out of attending multiple games in person a year over a decade ago. That being said, I am still a fan – and that is my choice. I could live, and enjoy life, just fine even if the MLB folded, or the Astros moved to Montreal. It’s like losing a dog you love – and I’ve already lost old ‘Luv ya Blue’ and survived. I don’t have any investment money at risk in the Astros organization or any other franchise, so I have no control over, or really any opinion about, what the owners do with their money beyond the occasional bad case of ‘you idiot – sign ‘x’ free agent at whatever cost form of fanatic fan-hysteria.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, maybe I do reserve the right to grumble loudly about the cost of tickets and concessions in connection with the few games I actually do still get to attend – but i know before I open my mouth that neither my kids, my grandkids, nor anyone in the Astros FO is worrying too much about that!

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  6. I watch the Astros games by subscribing to MLB. Last year it cost me about 100 so I though it a good investment. I was blacked out of games with Atlanta, Washington, and Baltimore. I guess I can live with that. Not too many Astro fans here in NC but sure a bunch of yankee and red Sox fans. 🤮I’ll probably subscribe again this year if reasonable. Tough staying up till 1AM to watch west coast games but that’s the price I pay. We have a A team (Marlins) here and prices are reasonable and parking is free if u use the city garage. Only have to walk 3 blocks. Most go to socialize rather than watch baseball so I don’t attend much. Anyway as to the subject at hand, the minor league system is supposed to be the training and reserve ground for future major leaguers. If you don’t take care of these guys they won’t be around long. I personally know of former high school classmates who said they just couldn’t make it to the show but we’re good ball players. They couldn’t make a living at it. Something should be done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Are you talking about the Grasshoppers? They changed affiliation and will be a Pirates’ farm club in 2019. You’re spot on about the prices though. We went to a game in Hickory last summer for next to nothing and could not have had a more enjoyable time at the ballpark.

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      • Spot on Devin. Didn’t know the Grasshoppers are now a Pirates affiliate. Shame on me for letting that one slip by.

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  7. I think I pay 39.95 a month to watch all games. It includes the playoffs too. No blackouts at my out post.

    When I’m back in Houston, and other family members are using the season tickets, I buy the cheap seats and if it’s not a packed house, I move down in the third or forth inning. I do not eat nor buy any souvenirs at the park. I might be the only guy in the stadium without as Astro shirt on. There is much better food outside of the park for a fraction of the cost. And you can bring stuff in to most parks these days, no? I sure don’t buy a ten dollar beer very often any more either. Going to the park can be as economical as going to the movies.

    The problem with minor league salaries is that major leaguers have short memories. If the players association really wanted to help, they’d bargain for change. But they won’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greed, for lack of a better name is good…(G Gordon Geeko) Wall Street. Greed is kind of like the “love of money being evil”. IMHO

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    • The Mrs. and I had season tickets for years, then moved to mini-season ones. Now we do not buy any of them. To be very honest, I do not enjoy the park experience anymore. The seats are too narrow (no, my behind is not big!) the fans get too drunk and rowdy, and the music played between innings is too loud and irritating! It sounds as if I am standing beside a car with the woofer and bass turn on high! Additionally, I can follow the ball better on television and get a clear replay of the play. I guess I am an old coot now. Get off my lawn!!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Although, I still go two or three times a year, I do agree with you.
        I miss the early Astrodome days when folks actually went to see baseball being played.
        MM is very uncomfortable, too loud, and frankly, almost impossible to follow the game unless you’re right behind home plate. Way too much entertainment between innings.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I am not recommending this. HOWEVER, if you are local (in Texas) and want to use MLB, you can subscribe to a VPN that is out of the country or at least out of state. Log onto it first, then MLB or whatever and watch on your laptop. (Yes, it is probably illegal, but it works).

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  9. Spring Training starts in a little over two weeks. And a ton of FAs are still looking for a home. I wonder if DK were to be offered his QO again, would he now take it for just one year?

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  10. *Curtis Granderson has hit over .250 only twice in the last ten seasons, .262 in 2011 and .259 in 2015. In those ten seasons, he’s made over $98 million in salaries.
    *Did you know that Jose Altuve has more accumulated WAR in his career than Bryce Harper, according to Fangraphs?
    *Did you know that, so far, the Rays have only $37 million in payoll for the 2019 season, and $15 million of that is for Charlie Morton?

    Liked by 2 people

      • Correa, and Devo won their arbitration….who’s next? I love the Super Bowl, because when that game is over…..football is GONE until the end of this summer! My 12yr old grandson is on an elite traveling team this Spring and summer! His 10yr old brother, eats, sleeps and LIVES for baseball! I’m a very proud Mimi⚾!!

        Liked by 1 person

    • If CC’s back is healthy, he should be worth every penny, plus a mill or two. We will find out soon enough if his back problems are – or are not – going to resolve without surgery. Wishing him the best!

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  11. I’m not sure why you fight one of your better players (when healthy) over 750 K
    Sure he struggled last year but he was a main reason you won it all in 2017.
    Reminds me of them going to arb over 250 K with Castro who they eventually parted ways with

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  12. Funny thing about greed – no one ever accuses himself of being infected by it! It is one of those things folks seem quick to attribute to . . . OTHERS! These attributions are usually made without knowing the true situation of those others at all – i.e. how much the accused person or entity gives to others, how many jobs he/it provides to folks who would otherwise be unemployed, or even how much he/it pays in taxes. Is it just ignorance? Hypocrisy? Class envy? Or just plain, old-fashioned mean spiritedness?

    Three things that seem to be universally true: 1. Greed is in the eye of the beholder. 2. Greed is most clearly evident in the heart of whoever accuses another of it; and 3. When someone thinks he has the right to dictate to another what the latter should do with the money the latter has earned by his labor, he is a thief at heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My personal thought Mr Bill is I feel no guilt asking an owner whose team is playing in a tax payer funded stadium worth $400 million in today’s dollars to give back a little to the community. I know they do give otherwise – but maybe we should ask for the $400 million back and call things square.
    I know it is my greedy dark heart doing it but I am proud of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Greed: intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.
    I wanted to post the definition of greed before I commented. And Mr Bill, I do not necessarily disagree with your statement but then there is the other side of the coin. When someone’s quest for money, power, etc. becomes such that it does more harm than good greed becomes almost “evil” IMO. We see evidence of this everyday in business, politics, sports, entertainment, etc. I don’t mind that someone has been successful and done well for themselves, but somewhere along the line there were probably others who were hurt by one’s pursuits of these things. History is full of them. I used to ask the question, “Where is the line delineating success and greed.” I like to see people succeed. I think those that are blessed with those abilities have to look inward to make it such that they help others who are less fortunate or help them succeed. No, I’m not advocating taking their money or property but those that help others I say bravo. If tomorrow we all suddenly found 100MM in our bank account to do as we pleased, I’d be willing to bet that those on this blog would definitely use some to help others through church, charities, and other ways to share our good fortune. At least that’s what I think is right. As to Dan’s comment, giving back to the community for it’s assistance in making the owners wealthier is not a bad idea. I would think most people go to the ballgame to be entertained by the performances of the players and their team. I doubt they go to be part of a circus atmosphere which others here have described.
    OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Best to all!
    Play Ball!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A new animated musical is coming out . . . How the Crane stole Corpus Christi. And the theme song is:

    You’re a greedy one, Mr. Crane!
    You really are a jerk; why don’t you pay people to work . . . Mr Crane?
    You sick pervert . . . we hope you go berserk!

    You’re a miser, Mr. Crane!
    You fill kids’ stockings with useless rocks; we hope you die of chicken pox, Mr. Crane!
    You’re hardly human . . . a friend of Spock’s?

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      • Mr. Bill thinks I’ve turned into Bopert in my hatred for Mr. Crane, because I suggested he put some $$$ aside for the fans and the minor leaguers and he’s lampooning me.
        I don’t think Mr. Crane is mean. I am not sure if he is greedy or any greedier than all the other owners and players involved in baseball today. I also don’t have much hope (as my blog post stated) that these ideas would have any traction. But I apparently am waaaaaay out of bounds in suggesting that a little bit of $$$ (little bit in the whole big business of mlb) be shuttled aside for minor leaguers and fans.

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      • Just trying to have a little fun and keep the conversation rolling, Dan. Nobody’s accusing – or suggesting – you are out of bounds. I was just trying to give a little different perspective, and I apparently pushed a button. My apologies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No problem – I was just tossing out a post to get some reaction and I have. I’m sorry if I seem to be thin skinned. I get frustrated when so few people (30 owners / 750 players) cannot be happy with the humongous pie they have.

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      • No harm, no foul guys. Hey if we can’t have a little friendly banter then what good are we. I think we’re just all ready for baseball season to start. As long as the opinions don’t get personal we’re all adults here. At least I think I try to be.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I wonder if the Phils are back in the Realmuto auction because they know that they are not getting either Machado or Harper.
    I wonder if the Phils are back in the Realmuto auction because they know they are getting Machado or Harper.
    Either way, the Marlins talking dummy, Frisaro, keeps putting the Marlins propaganda out there. Jim Henson would be so proud of the job Joe Frisaro is doing for Miami. Reporter? What a farce!

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  17. DanP, to tag your “give back to the fans “ – on idea would be to give (pick a number) 50 Standing Room Only tickets to a different elementary school each game. The tickets would be for students with highest grades.

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    • HISD shows 280 schools- 150 inner city elementary schools (my guess) Two schools per home game – 25 each school would get close.

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    • They would have to be non-standing room only tickets. You absolutely have to be able to account for every student every second of that game. You cannot do that in SRO, but only in seats, where they can easily be counted instantly.

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  18. 2019 champaign slogan is:
    “Take it back”. Luhnow answers a question about Verlander, ” We want to keep him here as long as we possibly can”, who knows how long that will be, but I’d be ok giving him another 3yrs here. His presence here is sooo valuable. Becky⚾

    Liked by 1 person

  19. At the end of this season Justin Verlander will have made over $225 million in salaries as a major league player. He married a woman who has made a lot of money.
    I’m not saying money isn’t important to him, but he has stated that he wants to have a HOF career. His and Luhnow’s statements about continuing to play in Houston past this season make sense. What it is that gets a pitcher in the HOF is success and if the Astros keep winning and Verlander keeps winning, he will get the wins he needs to secure his place in MLB history.
    Houston does not provide the pressure cooker that the big money teams exert, but beating the big money teams would surely secure his HOF gig.
    This guy and this team seem to be a very good match. And having this guy to mentor the great young arms we have sure would be beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I feel a little sorry for those FAs that looks like will only get a minor league contract and a ST invite. Then again It brings to mind Conway Twitty singing

    “Lord I’m just living a lie
    And there’s no need in trying
    To keep hanging on
    After all the good is gone…”

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    • Who is it that hasn’t signed one FA to a minor league deal so far this offseason? The Astros. They still might, but I think this is the start of a trend toward younger guys getting more of a chance to break into the majors.
      Think about it. The Astros are pouring time, money and hours into player development using analytics to choose their prospects and then putting those prospects into a development program to improve their skills from the moment they hit rookie ball.
      As the Astros get closer and closer to the top of the salary spending line, it comes down to whether or not to keep a possible 1.0 WAR veteran for $3 million a year or a 1.0 WAR youngster for $555,000. If you know that the youngster is not going to ever give you 3.5 WAR per season, because he doesn’t quite have that ability, then you might as well put his low income service time to good use now, rather than paying a veteran six times as much money to produce the same value.
      As far as the Astros are concerned, they don’t need veteran players who are near the end of their careers to come in and provide leadership on the bench. The Astros have a ton of seasoned veterans all over their roster.
      The ideal situation for Houston is to develop Kyle Tucker as a true major league starting outfielder so that next year he replaces Reddick and Reddick becomes your #4 guy who has the defensive ability to play every OF position and come in for defense late in the game in the last season of his contract.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s why Nephew is such a valuable commodity. A 1.6 OWAR from 210 at bats for 507K in 2018. If he provides anything close in 2019, he’s a real bargain. Not a guy you want to give up unless someone wants him for Realmuto.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am not opposed to signing them to a minor league contract but I doubt that is what their agents told them back in November.

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  21. Can I tell you how awful Miami did in this trade?
    Jorge Alfaro had a .406 BABIP last season, which means he was the #1 luckiest hitter in all of major league baseball. He only managed a .262 batting average with a .406 BABIP!
    Alfaro struck out 138 times in 377 plate appearances! That 36.6 K% was the fifth worst in baseball, even worse than Joey Gallo. Out of 355 players who had at least 200 plate appearances, Alfaro’s walk% of 4.8% was #325.
    You might think he has a cannon, since the guy can’t hit. His caught stealing % of 27% for his career is one percentage below the league average for the three years he has been in MLB.
    Alfaro was the Phillies #4 prospect………….in 2016!
    In 2017 Alfaro batted .318 for 114 PAs, but his BABIP for that year was .420. When this guy hits his regression, it is going to be brutal.
    More later on the “Top Pitching Prospect Miami” got. Oh, boy!
    By the way, the Marlins did not want to deal Realmuto to another team in their division!!! Guess what?

    Liked by 2 people

  22. They got a warm body to put behind the plate. They got a couple of good pitching prospects, both though, a long way from ML bats.

    Two years of Realmuto did not impress MLB much. That’s pretty clear. Luhnow could have given up some guys we’d have gotten over the loss of pretty quick.

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  23. Continuing with the Realmuto trade:
    *Miami received pitcher Will Stewart in this trade. Will Stewart is not, and has never been, a Top 30 Prospect in the Phillies system.
    The fourth player Miami received in the trade is slot money. Not real money, but slot money that they can use to help acquire an international free agent. Slot money is the amount of money you are allowed to spend on IFAs, but it isn’t real money. It’s like real monopoly money you can use to spend on a free agent.
    Now we come to Miami’s real prize: The Phillies #1 prospect. Sixto Sanchez is a 6’0″ 180lb. pitcher who throws 100 mph and doesn’t walk anybody. Problem is Sanchez missed half this year because of “elbow inflammation” and then missed the Arizona Fall League because of “a clavicle problem”
    Here’s the thing: Of the Astros 15 pitchers in their Top 30 Prospects list, every single one of them averaged at least a strikeout per inning or higher this past season, without exception. But Sixto Sanchez was the #1 prospect in the entire Phillies organization and in his 4 seasons of professional baseball he has never averaged a strikeout per inning. Strikeouts is the bees knees for pitchers right now and Sanchez has never pitched higher than A+ ball, and still has not averaged a strikeout per IP.
    So the Phillies traded their #1 pick why?
    Miami gets a 20 year old small pitcher who throws 100 mph and has elbow inflammation.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. In other news, Astros hero, Hunter Pence, who is now 35!! has signed a minor league contract and an invitation to spring training with… the Texas Rangers! He is from Ft. Worth so he goes home.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. i’d like to know what we offered for realmuto. i think we could have matched or exceeded the philly offer with folks we would not have wailed or gnashed teeth over for very long. maybe there is still something in the works by way of a trade for catching upgrade. i can see chirinos and stassi doing a decent job during the season, but are they world series caliber?

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    • The Red Sox won the WS with a very weak set of catchers. We won the WS with McCann on a bad knee and Evan Gattis and Juan Centeno.
      It’s about being good enough to play for a WS caliber team. Stassi and Chirinos and Stubbs are our catchers.

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  26. Daveb…..I didn’t know nephew is outta options did you?? So is Marisnck! From what I gleen from Mctaggart, Jake is on a very short leash this year.
    I’m soo glad for the “drama” of “Where Realmuto is going to get traded to” is OVER! I’m a gambler, so I’m betting the entire team is already in Florida just waiting to get it going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky, Nephew has a great option. If he keeps hitting, he’ll have a job. Jake has Straw in his rear view. If Jake continues to be horrible at the plate, Straw will give us better at bats, run fast and play late defense for Brantley. And that’s not even considering Tucker adjusting to ML baseball.

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  27. Brian McTaggert says this is full JL quote.

    “Luhnow’s full comments: “The contributions of Dallas, Marwin & Charlie are part of Astros history forever & will always be appreciated. Without them we would not accomplish what we did. Gattis, Sipp, Maldonado were also important players at various times & I wish them all well.””

    Liked by 1 person

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